New York Thruway tolls jump 5 percent

| 1/5/2010

For truckers facing pressure from the state and the threat of fines for traveling on back roads, a 5 percent toll increase on the New York Thruway promises to add up.

The increase was approved in 2008 and took effect Monday, Jan. 4. Officials say the rate hike will bring in an additional $27 million for capital improvements.

As Thruway users know all too well, New York state law authorizes a portion of toll revenue from the Thruway to be diverted to the state’s Canal Corporation.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes the diversion of any highway tax or toll to fund non-highway projects.

Thruway tolls pay for almost all of the Canal operations except for $10 million paid for through grants, according to the Thruway Board of Directors.

OOIDA Life Member Lou Esposito of Duanesburg, NY, says he avoids running the Thruway whenever possible.

“You start running down toward New York City or out to Buffalo, it’s quite significant,” Esposito told Land Line. “The tolls are exorbitant.”

Using the Thruway’s toll calculator, a 5-percent increase for a five-axle truck translates to an extra $3.32 for an east-west Thruway trip from the Albany area to Buffalo. That trip now costs $66.55 cash, or $63.22 with E-ZPass.

A north-south trip on the Thruway from Albany to the New York City area has increased about a buck to $19.60 cash, or $18.60 with E-ZPass.

“I won’t do it if I don’t have to,” Esposito said. “I don’t know how these guys are doing it today with low freight rates and their truck payments.”

Tolls last increased on the Thruway a year ago by a similar 5 percent.

The Thruway board approved increases in 2008 when revenues were suffering. According to the board, revenues were on the rebound during the first half of 2009.

“With respect to revenues, through the end of July the Authority collected $363.5 million in tolls, which was $30.7 million higher than the level collected in the same period of 2008, representing an increase of 9.7 percent,” Thruway board members stated during their September 2009 meeting.

– By David Tanner, staff writer